Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Colossians 2:8)
The imperative verb “beware” expresses more than a casual caution. It is the Greek verb blépete meaning to look or observe carefully and intently with perception. God’s Word consistently urges us to observe carefully the events going on around us that threaten to assault our Christian faith. “Beware lest thou forget the LORD” (Deuteronomy 6:12). Jesus warned, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15), and “beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1). Paul alerts the Philippians to “Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the concision” (Philippians 3:2). Peter also cautions, “beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness” (2 Peter 3:17).
In our day it appears that the threat to “spoil you” has intensified. The verb spoil here is not the same as we understand for milk or other food becoming unfit for consumption, although that understanding might have some merit here. However, the Greek word translated “spoil” here, sulagogeo, means to be lead away as booty or to be seduced. The idea is that of a conquering warrior carrying off a great prize. That man then, by implication is Satan. And how does he do this? He does it through philosophy -- the humanistic, evolutionistic thinking of our modern world who “professing themselves to be wise” (Romans 1:22) have become fools and through vain or “empty” deceit. This is like the unsubstantial political promise of “change;” it sounds good when obscured in clouds of ambiguity but the end result is worse than the beginning. These things come “after the tradition of men” and “the rudiments,” i.e., the principles “of the world,” i.e., the kosmos or the world system, juxtaposed to the tradition and principles that are “after Christ.” Beware! And don’t get spoiled!